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Adapting to the Priorities of the New Healthcare IT Workforce

January 28, 2015
by Tim Tolan
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Millennials are highly educated, ambitious and mobile. Will your organization be able to attract and hold on to the best people?
Tim Tolan

An organization’s most important asset can be defined in a number of ways, depending on the person defining the term and their own role. I am a big believer that, in most organizations, the most important asset is the human capital that makes everything happen. While the balance sheet report gives us a snapshot of the health of an organization in terms of assets and liabilities, it does not capture the relevant importance of the people who “keep the trains running on time.”

I am in the human capital business, and I have seen the employment market change dramatically over the last seven years—it’s not been stellar in most sectors. Many markets are still struggling to find their way through this long, drawn out recovery. Some sectors have fully recovered, while others have seen their best days and a real recovery is not going to happen any time soon—if ever.

This brings me back to why I believe (and why you should believe) that your greatest asset is the team you’ve assembled that supports your mission and the organization’s objectives. In years past, many of us have taken this asset for granted because of the job market and the freedom to be more selective when hiring new recruits. Many healthcare organizations asked employees to wear multiple hats instead of hiring more people due to budgets and a slowdown in hiring. Market dynamics have now changed and things are improving across our sector—and in fact, the forecast looks very bright.

The North American HCIT market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4 percent, to reach $31.3 billion by 2017 from $21.9 billion in 2012. That’s huge. The growth is mainly due to an increased demand for skills around clinical information technology, as well as administrative solutions and services. It’s exciting on one hand but a bit scary on the other, as the demand for who I refer to as “the do’ers” is going to grow. In a recent survey, the greatest demand in healthcare IT includes IT/technical management leaders, analysts, informatics, system analysts and project managers. So the do’ers are going to be in demand, and heavily recruited by healthcare organizations using higher compensation and other perks that are more important to younger, more educated employees than ever before.

The data is real, so get ready to adapt or watch your up-and-comer millennials look for greener pastures.

The U.S.– Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that millennials will make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce by 2030.

Here are a few data points to consider:

  • Millennials are the most educated generation in history.
  • Approximately 79 percent of those in the Gen-Y category hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 69 percent for those in the Gen X category and only 62 percent for Boomers.
  • Millennials don’t think workers should be expected to stay with their employer more than a year. That’s a big change compared to Boomers.
  • Millennials are ambitious and eager for their careers to grow and more hungry to learn new skills than their Gen X or Baby Boomer counterparts. Also, they favor managers who are friendly.

Here’s the net: We all need to think different about the value as an employer you bring to the table. In years past if you had an open requisition you could fill it in a reasonable amount of time—for the most part. That is all about to change and while the demographic shift will be gradual it will also be noticeable. If you adapt and understand the new workforce dynamics, you should be fine.

If not, it could be a very slippery slope.

Tim Tolan is senior partner at Sanford Rose Associates-Healthcare IT Practice. He can be reached at or (904) 875-4787. His blog can be found at